Keith Ellison: Herman Cain is a "religious bigot"

Ellison thinks Cain might be "a sick individual."

Ellison thinks Cain might be "a sick individual."

Herman Cain is intolerant of Muslims, and Keith Ellison is intolerant of Herman Cain.

In an interview with, Ellison said Cain, the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza now running for the Republican presidential nomination, is "trying to distinguish himself as the religious bigot of the presidential race."

Ellison was responding to a long list of outrageously anti-Muslim statements from Cain, including Cain's comment that he wouldn't select any Muslims to cabinet positions if he is elected president, which he won't be.

Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, took Cain to task for "his incredibly offensive" statements, which Ellison thinks are a deliberate appeal to get attention.

"I don't know if Herman Cain is just a sick individual, or if he is using bigotry to strategically move his campaign forward," Ellison said.


Ellison has become America's go-to guy for tough comebacks to broad anti-Islamic statements. Cain, of all people, has it coming.

Last week Cain came out in opposition to a mosque project in Tennessee, and then went further on Fox News, saying that all American communities should be able to stop construction of mosques.

Ellison, who's never owned a pizza place but does have a law degree from the University of Minnesota, told Salon that Cain's idea is unconstitutional.

"This is ridiculous and has no foundation in American law. In fact, the U.S. Constitution says Congress shall make no law establishing a religion and shall not abridge the exercise thereof. He runs right into the First Amendment. But the larger question is, why is he trying distinguish himself as the religious bigot of the presidential race of 2011 and 2012?"

Ellison went on to say that Cain and Newt Gingrich, who has voiced similarly anti-Muslim sentiments, are playing with fire.

"They're saying this even though they know what they're saying is likely to antagonize and inflame people. I have to say, it's a scary prospect. A lot of times ideas take years to germinate. But if you keep whipping up hate and hysteria against a religious minority long enough, catastrophic things can happen."

In the most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Cain, who was once running in third place at 12 percent, dropped to sixth place among Republican candidates with 5 percent.

Herman Cain, sixth place among Republicans, No. 1 among religious bigots.